On December 18, 2017, the School of Public Health (School), Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong (HKU), hosted a roundtable discussion on “Healthy Cities in a Healthy World: Challenges and Opportunities for the Next Decade”. This theme is a major thematic research area in the School’s new 5-year strategic plan and responds to growing concern about urban health issues in megacities. This roundtable was joined by nearly 200 healthcare leaders, policymakers, think-tank representatives, environmental advocates, scholars, researchers and students.
The roundtable opened with a short video compiled by the School on challenges and opportunities of healthier cities. This was followed by remarks by Professor Keiji Fukuda, Director of School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU: “Cities today are facing complex and difficult challenges and it is important that a broad, interdisciplinary and coherent approach is used to address how to make cities healthier, greener and more sustainably liveable.” Professor Fukuda noted that Hong Kong has the highest life expectancy in worldwide rankings for the second year in a row and yet continues to score badly in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. He then shared a second video in which students, staff, partners, friends and family members said what a healthy city meant to them.
Panellists were Professor Stefano Bertozzi, Dean of School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley; Professor Chang-Chuan Chan, Dean of College of Public Health, National Taiwan University; Professor Wei J. Chen, Immediate Past Dean and Distinguished Professor, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University; Professor Kee-Seng Chia, Dean of Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore; Professor Antoine Flahault, Director of Institute of Global Health, University of Geneva; Professor Christine Loh, Adjunct Professor of Division of Environment and Sustainability, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Professor William Hayward, Dean of Social Sciences, HKU; Dr Shin Young-soo, Regional Director for the Western Pacific, World Health Organization; and Professor Chris Webster, Dean of Architecture, HKU.
The panellists provided an overview of urban health issues such as environmental pollution, mental health, built environment and urban planning, diabetes, obesity, open space, green environment, and climate change. They exchanged views on the public policy approaches adopted by countries in the region, as well as the experiences of the healthy cities movement in Europe and Latin America. Members agreed that health is the business of all sectors and that it is important to engage multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary partners, including the private sector, local governments, and the citizenry. The panel agreed that there is a need for political, economic, social, development and health agendas to dovetail and that opportunities abound for achieving healthier and more sustainable cities. A message from the opening video reverberated and made perhaps the critical point: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
About the School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU
The School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong has a long and distinguished history in public health education and high impact research. With world leading research in infectious diseases as well as on non-communicable diseases of both local and global importance, the School has made significant contributions through its research and advocacy to improve the health of populations and individuals, both locally and globally. The School is a leading research and teaching hub in public health on influenza and other emerging viruses, control of infectious and non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, air pollution, psycho-oncology, behavioral sciences, exercise science, life-course epidemiology, and health economics, health services planning and management. This work has informed international (e.g. the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), national and local public health policies.
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